The Double Edged Sword of Controversy

Are you reading this post? Of course you are! What a silly question. Chances are, then, you’ve had to click past this pesky Warning Page, declaring that some people found material on my blog to be objectionable. I guess I had it coming. After all, I am a nudist, and a lot of people find my chosen beliefs offensive.

Google recognizes that this Frankensteinean monster they’ve created is far too big for any company to control. So, unlike Facebook, whose censorship committee is run by the Taliban, Google leaves policing their content to the public. And this is a problem, because without oversight, it doesn’t matter what the offending content is. A fundamentalist can complain about an atheist blog, and an atheist about a religious blog. A KKK clan member can warn other racists about an Obama blog, and the Westboro Church can censor a gay blog. None of these things are likely to happen, however, since the only thing that truly seems to offend people en messe isn’t hate speech or violence, but the human body. Nevertheless, allowing anyone to place Warning Pages wherever they wish only serves to limit free speech. While it is easy to click “I Understand and I Wish to Continue,” a lot of people may not want to, mistaking the blog for a porn or hate site.

The Writer’s Disease explores literature and the power of the written word. Of my 240+ articles, only 15 pertain directly to nudism/naturism. But Google’s warning page lumps my site with the worst the Internet has to offer. If it were more specific, if it were to say, “Warning: Nudist Content,” that would be an improvement, but even then, there would be confusion. Too many pornographers use the nudisttag for sexually explicit material that has nothing to do with nudism. On Twitter, I am inundated with dick pics, simply because I label myself a nudist, and on rare occasions, forward pro-naturist memes. The sad part is, it doesn’t matter how innocent the pictures are. It could be a mother breastfeeding, and some pervert will add it to his orgy gallery. For close to a century, nudists have been fighting the idea that the human body is obscene, but we seem to be losing the battle. When powerful corporations like Google paint all nudity with the same brush, it only reinforces this misconception. And the consequences can be damaging. If we train our brains to see any and all bodies as sexual, we are doing two things:  1) We are objectifying women. 2) We are perpetuating pedophilia.

This might sound extreme, but I say this with confidence, and it makes perfect sense once you think about it. Nudity is only offensive as it pertains to sex, so it isn’t the nudity itself that offends, but the unwanted feelings of arousal it elicits. What then, do we make of someone who finds the sight of a young child objectionable? If you cannot see that this image is innocent, then you must regard it as something sexual.

If, however, you are worried about other people, who may consider the image pornographic, you are only feeding into the pedophile-psyche, the idea that any nude person, even an infant being Baptized, is there to arouse. Just as a woman’s ankles are no longer considered obscene, we must desensitize the sight of the human body, and especially the sight of children’s bodies. A child should NEVER be associated with sex, but by censoring all innocent images, we are doing just that.

I realize this is a controversial topic, one that I wished to address in my writing, and in my book, Ages of Aenya. As someone who has suffered from sexual abuse in my youth, this is an important issue for me. Historically, writers have used the power of their pens to fight social injustices, and too often, like Dostoyevsky, have been jailed for their views. Far be it for me to compare myself to such titans of literature, history teaches me, nonetheless, that controversy can be a double-edged sword. On the plus side, it gives attention to my work, driving traffic to my blog. I am proud of the The Writer’s Disease for helping raise awareness of Aliaa Magda ElMahdi, the Egyptian born activist who posted a nude selfie on her blog in protest of Sharia Law. On the other hand, the continuing controversy surrounding nudity marks me with a label, and it is a label that comes with shame, because the blind-judgment of Google places the Writer’s Disease on the same mantle as PornHub.

Ironically enough, after my Kickstarter fail, I had decided to focus much less on nudism. After talking it over with my fans, I realized what I had long known but failed to accept, that it is the “-ism” that scares people, more than the “nudity.” Nobody wants to be labeled. And in truth, nudism is a non-thing. In an ideal world, there would be no need for such a term, just as there should be no need for terms like feminism and racism. This Warning Notice, and my failure to raise money for my novel, are setbacks, but the ideals of nudism cannot be quenched, because the movement has nothing to do with gawking at flesh; that is the domain of the pornographer. My interest remains, as always, in environmentalism, freedom, and in innocence. One can be a nudist and never go naked.

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